1957 Baseball Season

In 1957 the world discovered Hank Aaron and the Milwaukee Braves. Prior to the 1957 baseball season -- with the Yankees, Giants, and Dodgers claiming every flag in sight thus far in the 1950s -- fans had felt that baseball existed only in New York.

Hank Aaron
In 1957 the world
discovered the great
Hank Aaron.

After managing the Pirates to three straight last-place finishes, Fred Haney took over as the Braves skipper midway through the 1956 season. The Braves found the aging Dodgers ripe for the picking in '57. In another of his many magnificent years, Aaron earned the Most Valuable Player Award on his league-leading 44 homers and 132 RBI and his .322 average. Eddie Mathews contributed 32 homers and Red Schoendienst, picked up in a trade, hit .310. Although the Braves lost Bill Bruton and Joe Adcock to injury, they did have Wes Covington (21 homers) and Bob Hazle (.403 in 134 at-bats).

The Braves' pitching staff was strong as well, paced by the Big Three of Cy Young Award-winner Warren Spahn (21-11, 2.69 ERA), Lew Burdette (17-9, 3.71 ERA), and Bob Buhl (18-7, 2.74 ERA). When help was needed in the bullpen, Haney brought out Don McMahon (nine saves, 1.53 ERA).

Milwaukee took the flag at 95-59, 8 games ahead of the Cardinals (who had batting champ Stan Musial with a .351 average) and 11 ahead of the Dodgers (who had the top two ERA men in Johnny Podres and Don Drysdale).

Although superstar Willie Mays hit 35 homers and led the league in steals with 3-8, New York finished 26 games behind. Last-place Chicago had its own hitting sensation in Ernie Banks, who smacked 43 homers.

In the American League, the White Sox took an early lead, thanks to Luis Aparicio, Nellie Fox, and Minnie Minoso. The Yankee bats then took over, and New York breezed to the pennant. Mickey Mantle won another MVP title with a .365 average and 34 home runs. Yogi Berra went downtown 24 times, while Bill Skowron (.304) and Rookie of the Year Tony Kubek (.297) were reliable bats.

With Whitey Ford having a sub-par year on the hill, manager Casey Stengel needed steady hurling from Tom Sturdivant (16-6, 2.54 ERA), a strong comeback of Bob Turley (13-6, 2.71 ERA), and the acquisition of Kansas City's Bobby Shantz (11-5, a league-best 2.45 ERA). The Yankees, 98-56 on the season, took the flag from the White Sox-and 20-game winner Billy Pierce, who tied with Detroit's Jim Bunning for the lead in victories -- by 8 games.

Although Boston finished a distant third, 39-year-old Ted Williams hit a loop-high .388 with 38 home runs to become the oldest batting champion ever. Cleveland, which had lost Al Rosen and Bob Feller to retirement, lost southpaw phenom Herb Score on May 7 when he was hit in the face by Gil McDougald's line drive. Although Washington's Roy Sievers led the league with 42 homers and 114 RBI, the Senators brought up the rear.

The 1957 World Series opened in New York, with Ford tossing a five-hitter and the Yankees winning 34. The Braves took the second game in Yankee Stadium behind Burdette's 4-2 complete game triumph. Kubek hit two homers as the Yanks romped to a 12-3 score in game three, and the Braves took game four 7-5 on Mathews's three-run homer in the tenth inning.

Although Burdette out-dueled Ford by one in game five, the Yanks evened the 1957 World Series with a 3-2 win in game six. Burdette pitched his third complete game of the Series in game seven, as the Braves won 5-0 to take the Championship flag out of the Big Apple for the first time since 1948.

The title was not all that New York lost that year. Citing inefficient ballparks and a lack of parking facilities, the owners of the Dodgers and Giants ballclubs moved their teams to California at season's end.

The next page provides headlines and summaries for some of the top stories of the 1962 baseball season.

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